Most of the detainees have been released, but Yemeni rebels continue to detain an unknown number of U.S. Embassy employees in Sana’a, a U.S. official said.
The United States has called on the Houthi rebels in Yemen to release an unknown number of Yemeni detainees who work for the American embassy in the capital, Sana’a.
The compound that previously served as an embassy – operations were moved to Saudi Arabia years ago because of the Yemen war – was violated, a State Department spokesperson told the agency on Thursday. AFP press release.
Most of the detainees have been released but rebels continue to detain Yemeni embassy employees, the spokesperson said.
“We are concerned that the Yemeni staff at the US Embassy in Sana’a continue to be detained without explanation and we call for their immediate release,” the official said, urging the Houthis to “immediately leave” the compound and to return all seized property.
The United States transferred the operations of its embassy to Riyadh in 2015 due to the civil war in Yemen.
The conflict erupted in late 2014 when the Houthis seized large swathes of the country, including the capital, Sana’a. It intensified in March 2015 when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates assembled a US-backed military coalition in an attempt to re-establish the Riyadh-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as proxies for Iran, claims the rebels and Tehran reject.
The war has sparked a massive humanitarian crisis, with around 80 percent of Yemen’s 30 million people depending on aid to survive.
The United Nations noted last year around 233,000 people died as a result of the conflict.
In a briefing Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price noted the Biden administration was “extremely concerned” by reports of the detention of US Embassy employees in Sana’a.
“We have seen progress and continue to work on this critical issue. The majority of those who were detained are no longer in custody, ”Price told reporters, without providing the exact number of employees detained or why.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of those who serve the US government abroad, and that is why we are so actively engaged on this issue, including through our international partners,” he said. declared.
Earlier this year, US President Joe Biden announced the end of US support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive operations” in Yemen, including “relevant arms sales”.
Washington last week approved a $ 650 million sale of air-to-air missiles to Riyadh, a move the Pentagon said on Nov. 4 “would support U.S. foreign policy and U.S. national security by helping to improve security. security of a friendly country which continues to be an important force for political and economic progress in the Middle East ”.